Diablo 3 Greater Rift Pushing Guide

Diablo 3 Greater Rift Pushing Guide by Kayge

Special Thanks to M1PY, Slizer36, Rawapple, NerdRage, Battlechess, Essentialist and Rhykker for all your help!

Table of Contents

  1.  Introduction
  2.  Mob Density, Elite Density, and Mob types
  3.  Sheet Damage vs Actual Damage
  4.  Followers are Underrated
  5.  Unity vs Stone of Jordan vs Ring of Royal Grandeur
  6.  Legendary Gems.
  7.  Paragon Points
  8.  Tips and Tricks commonly overlooked.

Chapter 1: Introduction

My name is Kayge and together with the help of the people listed above we decided to work on getting an all-inclusive guide on Greater Rifts to help players min-max and push for their attempts to get on the leaderboard.  Everyone contributing to this guide has been on leaderboards for season 1 and 2 even as high at top 100 at the end of season 1.  We plan to help you understand the difference between bad rifts and good ones plus teach you how to understand gear choices so you can replace pieces based on what you need and not what the top player did.

We are in the process of getting others set up on Twitch at the moment but if you care to hang out with us check us out at…

Kayge: www.twitch.tv/PKayge

M1PY: www.twitch.tv/m1py

Rawapple: www.twitch.tv/rawapple

Chapter 2: Mob Density, Elite Density, Pack Density, and how they relate to being a good or bad rift.

There are 3 terms we use that help describe the types of monsters we find in greater rifts and typically you’re going to just have to try and be patient until you can get a rift that is clearable.

  1. Mob Density – How tightly packed the monsters you find in a rift are packed together into a small area.  Zombies for example have a naturally high density because they typically spawn in groups of 5 or more very close to one another.  The denser you can make the mobs before dumping your spells the more efficient you hit the mobs per resource or cooldown spent.  For this reason Cyclone monks and Condemn crusaders work really well for parties because they naturally increase the density of whatever mobs you run into.
  2. Elite Density – How frequently you run into Elite mobs.  Multiple elites on top of each-other at higher tier greater rifts can be absolutely amazing.  AoE tends to be the best way to clear rifts and when you get to AoE multiple elites down at once your rift bar will skyrocket.  Don’t be afraid to fight multiple elites at once, just remember to focus on mechanics targeting the one closest to you when you safely can.  Typically multiple packs will share an affix or two so you don’t need to worry about getting overwhelmed like you used to in old school inferno.  It is very important to check other guides about how to deal with certain affixes that drastically affect your class.
  3. Pack Density – This is typically used to describe the distance between each set of mobs inside of a rift.  In order to push an extremely high greater rift it is very imperative that you get good pack density.  Even with low elite and mob density you can manage if the packs are all extremely close to eachother.

There is no picture perfect rift for every single class and sometimes a rift is simply impossible.  Regardless of what mobs specifically you run into though you do not need a rift with Disentombed Hulks or Wretched Mothers to push yourself higher than before.  Each class has it’s own strengths and weaknesses with different types of mobs and as long as you get good Mob Density, Pack Density and/or Elite Density you can do better than before.  Don’t get caught up on the levels you came so close and failed just take a closer look at what went wrong and how you can fix that.  Are you having problems with a certain rift guardian mechanic for example?  Find out if and where there is a farmable version of him in adventure mode (Ghom or Rhakanoth for example) where you can practice watching a mechanic on easy mode and try to get the timing of your vault, teleport, or dashing strike down just right to dodge the 1shot.  Was the distance between each pull really long?  Just pop in another keystone and try again.  Below are listed what is typically considered to be good rift mobs assuming that there is solid overall density.

Good Rifts to watch for: Khazra, Disentombed Hulks, Wretched Mothers, and Skeletons.  These mobs are all fairly easy to kill and don’t have too many standard mechanics tied in with them that make kiting hard.  They also offer a large amount of progression per resource or cooldown spent.  On the scary side of thing be wary of skeleton archers.  Their arrows are so tiny they are nearly impossible to see.

Mobs to possibly skip:  This all depends on your class, but for the most part Winged Assassins, Reapers, Angels, Lacuni Stalkers and Phase Beasts tend to be pretty brutal.  Sporting teleporting abilities, or long distance jumps.

Rift Guardians:  Most rift guardians come with fairly easy to dodge abilities and are not that difficult but there is one in particular that is excessively easy, Stonesinger.  He sports the lowest health of all rift guardians and comes with the Health Link affix on his clones he spawns allowing you to do AoE damage on all of them and kill the boss that much more quickly.

Chapter 3: Damage to Elites vs Elemental Damage

For dps purposes I’m sure pretty much everyone knows the best way to skyrocket your damage is to maximize Main Stat, Crit Chance, Crit Damage, and Attack Speed.  But taking a look at some harder to obtain stats did you know that the more you stack any kind of % damage the less effective it becomes?  This section is going to cover the interaction between Damage to Elites, Elemental Damage and Raw Damage. A quick note about the terms…

Damage to Elites (D) – Increases damage done to mobs with a blue, yellow, or purple name and in some rifts will help significantly especially when the rift guardian starts taking 10 minutes to kill.  This rolls with % scaling making it less effective the more you stack of it.

Elemental Damage (E) – Increases the damage you do with a specific element “Increase Fire Damage by 15%” to use an example.  Just like with Damage to Elites this is % scaling and thus becomes less effective the more you get.

Raw Damage (R) – This is the amount of damage your character does before any elemental or elite damage is calculated (NOT SHEET DPS).  Increasing your Raw Damage is the third variable when considering how much damage your abilities do.  The higher your Raw Damage is the better the other 2 stats listed above are going to affect your Net DPS.


Formula: (R x 1.E) x 1.D = Total Damage Done to Rift Guardians

The reason I say these don’t scale as well the more you get of them is because percentage scaling is additive among all your items sharing a stat and not multiplicative between each item but they are multiplicative between the different stats.

Let’s pretend you’re playing and you have an even 1,000 sheet dps.  Having 10% fire damage on a ring, amulet and weapon would give you 30% bonus fire damage and essentially just a 30% damage boost to your raw dps taking you up to 1,300 damage.

If you prioritize your build better to spread out these stats evenly though you get +10% Raw damage (or 100 bonus damage), +10% fire damage which multiplies your new raw damage, and then +10 % damage to elites which multiplies your new total damage again.  Thus spreading out your stats gives you 1,331 damage.  This is one reason a lot of the higher rift players prefer a Furnace instead of a Maximus for example.  If an item says +20% fire damage but you already have 100% fire damage it’s really only about a 10% boost to damage after you factor in your raw damage.


That section can become a little hard to understand but what essentially it breaks down to is the more % Element Damage you have the better it scales your Elite Damage and the reciprocate is also true.  Normally you would just try to stack as much of each one as possible to increase your damage but for some builds this is harder to do because not everyone can find or use Furnace or Sunkeeper so it becomes more efficient to stack Raw Damage or Elemental Damage temporarily in place of elite Damage.

Anything else I should know about comparing these stats?

Make sure you don’t neglect raw damage while getting elite damage or elemental damage.  Since raw damage is the base component for each of these stats it is imperative that this be your primary focus when gearing up.  It is not worth using a Furnace with 40% damage to elites if it’s a 20% fire damage loss and 20% raw damage loss.

Chapter 4: Followers are Underrated

Perhaps the most overlooked part of high ranked gameplay is the followers that come to your aid.  They offer tons of benefits and at times can even put out more damage than you are capable of against Rift Guardians.

  1. “Your Follower Cannot Die” – the best prefix on a legendary follower item and the only one that matters.  One half of the absolutely necessary 2 pieces for a follower that gives you an infinite duration on a 50% damage reduction buff given to you by…
  2. Unity Rings – The legendary power on this ring splits all damage taken between all the characters wearing this ring.  Your follower counts as one of these people that damage is split between.  When using the “Follower Cannot Die” relic though your follower takes 0 damage at all times and just soaked up 50% of the damage you receive if you are wearing a Unity ring in your secondary slot as well.
  3. The Ess of Johan (Amulet) – What’s better than having a monk in your party to do cyclone strike and pull mobs together for you?  Not having to have a monk to do it.  The pull effect on Ess of Johan offers a large amount of crowd control with just the pull but it slows as well making stuff take even longer to get to you.  Be wary of mob placement with this amulet because sometimes a follower’s attack will pull mobs closer to you before slowing them.
  4. Bul-Kathos Wedding Band – Not one of the more rare rings in the game but the effect on this ring is really solid for the templar.  The legendary power of the BK Ring drains life from enemies around it approximately 0.5% of their currently health.  Doesn’t sound like much but when you are killing a rift guardian with 20 billion health it equates to almost 100,000,000 damage per second then steadily scaling down based on the mobs health.  Special Note:  The damage from BK Ring is capped at 2000% follower weapon damage.
  5. Diamond in Follower Weapons – To top off the BK Ring and increase that number even more put a Diamond in your followers weapon socket and hopefully find a sunkeeper.  Getting close to +50% damage to elites for your follower will also increase the damage of the BK Ring procs and make him do even more damage.

Chapter 5:  Unity vs Stone of Jordan vs Ring of Royal Grandeur

Often considered to be the best rings in the game Unity, Stone of Jordan (SoJ), and Ring of Royal Granduer (RoRG) bring an immense amount of power for any single item compared to what else is available and here is when you should use each one.

UnityThe absolute best ring for survivability in solo play.  When you put one on yourself and one on your follower it’s a straight 50% damage reduction because of the legendary effect on this ring.  The power forces everyone who is wearing this ring to share the damage any other character with this ring receives.  When paired with the follower item with the bonus, “Your follower cannot die” it grants permanent damage reduction to you.  The reason for this is because the relic when given to a follower not only prevents them from dying but also prevents them from taking any damage.  Since they can’t take damage any damage they receive does not transfer to you and only your damage taken is transferred to them which is then null and void. Be wary of using this in a party though especially if you are a tank.  Many times my Demon Hunter partner forgets to take his off and will take 50% of my damage taken and he just gets absolutely shredded.

Stone of JordanSoJ is often considered to be the best ring in the game because it is so incredibly strong always coming with a random Elemental Damage % bonus and damage to elites between 25-30% while supporting 2 other primary stats.  There is just such an insane amount of power in this one ring and has no difference between solo or party play.  The only time this ring is actually detrimental to you is when you are at a low gear level and your raw damage is so minimal that the % bonuses from this ring is not worth taking.

Ring of Royal Grandeur – Used by many this ring comes with the ability to reduce the number of set items required to get your tier bonuses by 1 (but never less than 2 items required).  Best in slot for classes than can run stat-efficient builds around it.  It sounds great sure but it excels in the fact that it allows you to replace a fairly standard item piece with a unique legendary offering special stat bonuses to whatever build your using or mixing multiple sets together that usually share an itrm slot.  For pet classes some prefer to take Tasker and Theo or Fire players tend to really like using Magefist or Cindercoat.  The downside to Ring of Royal Grandeur is that in solo greater rift pushing it forces you to either lose the powerful combination of Unity Rings or Stone of Jordan making this ring only good for builds that are able to utilize the extra 1 legendary item for a greater benefit.  For party play I still consider this ring almost a necessity (especially for monks atm) since it allows you to stack the Inna set, Sun Wuko and even Blackthorne if you care to go down that route.

With these 3 considered to be the best rings it is still subject to knowing your class mechanics and how you play.  Melee sometimes prefer the BK Ring because of the % health bleed effect but that boils down to lacking the need for survivability and being able to operate at full power without the use of RoRG.  Knowing how these rings can work together and what other items in your set you do and don’t need can allow you to make adjustments to your build to help min-max and push out that extra dps that you need to get through the higher grift floors.

Chapter 6: Legendary Gems and Which Ones are Right for You

There are a large number of legendary gems and if you look at the top players you will see some similarities but there is a large number of  players who use different gems and get a lot of benefits out of each one.  This short breakdown is going to help you understand when to use each different gem and how each one is more useful than the other options out there. You can find the numbers for scaling of these gems on tons of other sites so I’m going to skip the values and just talk about the usefulness of each one..

Bane of the Powerful –  This gem is particularly powerful for the classes that don’t have much trouble killing elite packs as they traverse across the rift.  I find this gem to be extremely useful up to about Greater Rift 40 but from that point on you are more likely to be getting better use out of the gems that give you a flat bonus higher than 15% since elites are going to take a much longer time to kill and this bonus does not scale per upgrade.

Bane of the Trapped –  Any ranged class that brings a constant source of CC can make use of this gem particularly well but otherwise it is much stronger for melee than ranged.  Since Ranged will generally not be getting to close mobs you are not able to make use of the rank 25 aura debilitating mobs and this gem should be use for CC builds only.

Boon of the Hoarder – A gold farming gem, works absolutely great for T6 farming and should never make it’s way into a greater rift.

Enforcer – The absolute best gem for pet builds.  While it lacks usefulness for most other cases it offers a bit of safety and damage by buffing that wall of minions in front of you.

Esoteric Alteration – Amazing gem for durability and Season 2 exclusive.  The best thing to note about this gem is that it stacks multiplicatively with your base stats.  If you have 75% damage reduction from resist all then this gem reduces the remaining damage taken by another X% based on level gaining even more tankiness when under 50% health.  I recommend using this gem if you are having trouble finding Unity, or as a replacement for it all together.

Gem of Ease – Fun gem for powerleveling yourself but useless for Greater Rift progression, season 2 exclusive as well.

Gem of Efficacious Toxin – Good gem for solo but excels in a party.  Does not stack with other players using the same gem but one person using this debuffs mobs allowing everyone else in the party to do an additional 10% damage as well.

Gogok of Swiftness – For builds having issues getting CDR capped this is a must.  I would advise against this for builds that do not spam fewer than 2 attacks per 3 seconds since you will constantly be losing stacks to consistently.

Invigorating Gemstone – This gem is horrible.  At higher tier greater rifts the entire philosophy is that you have no damage taken and to top it off there is no CC effects that don’t almost entirely 1shot squishies with the exception of Cold Snap the Rift Guardian.

Miranae, Teardrop of the Starweaver – Great for Holy damage builds that are able to spam a lot of attacks quickly but can also be used by very fast attack speed builds that are not ranged.  I don’t recommend this gem except possibly being useful as a 3rd gem for Monks and Crusaders in non-seasonal.

Molten Wildebeest’s Gizzard – Amazing defensive gem, great for zero dps party builds but you may have to get rid of this for solo play to grab a more offensive gem once you get to the higher tiers is the only downside.  Season 2 Exclusive.

Moratorium – This gem is pretty much Hard-core only as it has a unique survivability feature of staggering damage over 3 seconds and chance on kill to remove all damage.  While often overlooked by more soft-core players it can be the difference maker for some people getting 1shot but I would recommend the season 2 gems if they are available to you instead.

Pain Enhancer – Good for low attack speed crit builds but lacks usefulness with faster attack speeds because the dot overwrites itself back up to 3 seconds essentially losing a bit of damage if the dot isn’t allowed to fall off.  Does grants up to almost 700% physical damage a second between crits and for those stacking physical damage this scales extremely well.

Simplicity’s Strength – Strong gem for classes that spam a lot of their generators like the classic Monk Cyclone Winds build and Tal Rasha set users.  Goes very well with the item Depth Diggers in particular scaling regular attacks up quite a bit.

Taeguk – Absolutely amazing gem for resources dumpers.  Whirlwind barbarians and most Crusader builds get insane use out of this item.  With 30 ranks in this gem Teaguk gains 30 stacks increasing up to 25% bonus damage and armor..

Wreath of Lightning –  One of my favorites this is like a miniature conduit pylon.  Unfortunately the range and damage on it is pitiful making it unusable for most classes and even when it is viable the damage on it just isn’t as strong as other options.

Zei’s Stone of Vengeance –  Best scaling raw damage gem in the game.  Very few builds can actually make use of the 50 yard range on this to maximize the damage and as such it is often swapped out for another gem.

Hopefully with some better clarification the gems you can help make a call on what gems would be better for you to increase your damage or survivability be it solo or in a party.

Chapter 7: Paragon Points and where to allocate them.

I will keep this section pretty short because the values of these stats is pretty commonly found on where you should be placing them but there are a few key points I want to mention.

Core Tab:  The core tab has the only 2 bonuses that do not max out at 50 points and as such is extremely useful for anyone over paragon 800.  Pretty basic tab but it is very important that you use your available Paragon points in this tab to help you hit unmodified move speed cap.  Items with movespeed also apply to your hard cap so make sure you check how much you have before spending paragon points because you cannot reach over 25% move speed.  I say hard cap because any additional points you put into movespeed will not increase your speed.  Items like the barbarian War Cry belt or speed shrines can allow you to go over the cap but only for a limited time and under certain conditions.  Move speed is one of the most underrated abilities in the game because it allows you to have more leeway on your reaction time for dodging those random skillshots rift guardians throw out.  If possible try to aim for getting Movespeed off your items and into your paragon points if you can gain bonus skill damage or some other highly effective stat in that slot.

Offense Tab:  Pretty simple tab this is where you are going to be dumping the majority of your points needed to hit certain values.  Cooldown reduction is most often overlooked and it quite important to a lot of builds so know your thresholds and don’t always aim for just Crit Chance and Crit Damage, but when you do use these 2 values try and even out whichever of the 2 is lower assuming you can’t max both of them out.  Try to keep your personal ChC and ChD at about a 1:10 ratio to maximize dps.

Defense Tab:  A couple things to note about defensive stats is that this tab is very gear dependant.  Intellect classes gain increased resist all from intellect while strength and dex players gain bonus armor from their main stat so those classes should prioritize paragon points elsewhere first. A slight exception to this is with the Molten Wildebeest gem you should prioritize Life per second as your 2nd stat priority otherwise put points here last.

Utility Tab:  Not much to mention here other than to know how your class plays an if you can actually benefit from Life Per Hit (sentries don’t for example)..  Life on hit is good for some bad for others, but the only stat you should generally stay away from is Gold Find and Area Damage.  The name of the stat Area Damage is a little misleading in that there is always a 20% chance to proc this damage and there is no way to modify the proc chance.  Putting points here only increases that 20% proc damage by a tiny margin and therefore making any points you put into here 20% less effective.  That being said it is the only value in this tab that offers a raw damage boost, however most builds are able to get more net damage out of resource cost reduction.

Chapter 8:  Tips and Tricks commonly overlooked.

We have covered all of the high end basics and here I’ll shed some light on different tricks people learn to use to help their progression and why they do this.

Never Give Up, Never Surrender, but take it slow:  If you have the damage to complete the rift you will catch up but don’t vault or dashing strike forward.  A lot of times you will pounce forward and end up in range of a waller while having no cooldown let you get back out.  The hardest lesson for me to learn in Grifts is that going slow and maintaining control of the mobs is the key to success.

Skipping Yellow Mobs:  It’s called skipping but it shouldn’t be.  To skip a mobs means to keep aggro on it but pull it to the next set of mobs and keep doing minimal damage to it while continuing to clear the rift.  Typically yellow elite mobs have larger health pools and it takes too much time to kill them but by pulling them to the next set of white mobs you can get some extra damage on them while using AoE to kill the white mobs.  Eventually this mob will drop and you didn’t end up wasting nearly as much time killing it.  The only time I would recommend completely skipping these mobs are when you kite it to the end of a floor and it is still over 50% health.

Saving Pylons:  Ooh, a piece of candy this is what it’s like playing public games because every single time I play one someone notices a pylon and tags it instantly.  Nothing is more of a waste than hitting a conduit pylon at 99% completion and wasting the entire duration waiting for the RG animations to finish.  Keep an eye on your completion bar and when you reach close to 80% save any pylons you come across.  The immense power that they offer is great for clearing rifts but is even better once a Rift Guardian starts becoming the majority of your rift.  When you start fighting a guardian start killing it but kite backwards to the pylons.  There will always be times when you need to dodge abilities and use this opportunity to kite.  Assuming you’re not a mile away from your pylons the guardian will live long enough to reach the pylon and then still have work to be done after the effect fades.  It’s also important to note Conduit pylons only last 15 seconds while all the other last 30 seconds.

Pull More:  Effective clearing and feeling like a boss comes when you get a fork in the road.  Head up a little bit down each path and start tagging mobs to pull aggro on them.  Then head back to the other direction in a fork and pull the other side.  Typically mobs you get on a floor will all be about the same speed and funnel down the path coming together allowing you to aoe both groups at once.  Other times like with sentry builds it becomes more efficient to allow them to stay in the different areas and just drop sentries on them since the damage can be done from anywhere.  This split dps strategy also works for other specs like Firebird’s Dot where you don’t need to remain close to the enemies to deal damage.  Finding downtime between cooldowns where you can gather anywhere from 3 to 4 to 8 pulls can be extremely beneficial allowing you to kill more enemies per cooldown or resource spent.  After all why damage 10 enemies with one multishot when you can hit 40 instead?

Purposely Fail Rifts:  This strategy is particularly difficult on hardcore, but it is commonly known that to level your gems higher you need to do higher level floors.  You do not need to complete these floors in time!  Take it slow, deal with it at your pace and be safe is the main thing to understand.  If you’re aiming to complete floor 40, get some higher level keystones like level 43-44 and just let the timer expire.  Go complete the floor after the timer has expired and you no longer have to deal with sitting there waiting for the death timer to say you’re ready to respawns.  Afterwards you will still get loot and a gem upgrade.  The Gem upgrade is based on the floor level you completed regardless of time so in this sense at level 44 you will have a 100% chance of a level 33 gem getting an upgrade instead of pushing yourself and stressing about a timer on 40 only to fail and have a 70% chance to upgrade. The gems scale very well and indefinitely allowing you to keep getting stronger outside of paragon levels and without replacing gear.  When pushing the highest tiers of floors high level gems can be the difference makers.  How do I get these high level keys you ask?

Set up your skills and items to push high level trials:  If you take a look at all the top players on the leaderboard you are probably looking at their Greater Rift skill setup but trials can be tamed in a completely different manner.  Don’t use an SoJ for example.  Stone of Jordan gives amazing power because of the damage to elites, but there are 0 elites in a trial and creates wasted value in stats from an SoJ.  Instead replace it with a ring that gives you a 15-20% increase in raw damage.  Get rid of Bane of the Powerful as well.  No elites means 0 damage increase and is a waste of a slot.  Focus on small cooldown damage bursts.  Use the layout of the map to funnel mobs together


I hope this guide helps you out in any way and if you have any questions feel free to check out the streams listed above we will try to answer questions regularly.  Remember there is always going to be a fair amount of randomness in each rift and sometimes the numbers just don’t line up.  I like to take inspiration from Sun Tzu and remember, “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”

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1 Response

  1. Antimores says:

    I I love you guys!!! I was on GR 107 have trouble only a couple of second ahead and sometimes fell behind the time. So I pause the screen midway and found this guide by chance. And the result where awesome!! Although I have not fully implement everything here do to lack of practice just the basic stuff I was able to try out instantly greatly boosted my speed. Went from not going to kill the guardian in time to having a little over three minute left, and that only because I started implementing new things midway next time it should better and with practical and familiarity of you advice I should have an overall improvement. Anyway I not one to comment much just want say Thanks I appreciate the effort.

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